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Sabbath School Lessons on Garments of Grace
About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 37 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 11: The Wedding Garment *
Introduction: Matthew 21 contains stories which reveal that God has
enemies among humans. The problem with these enemies is that they do
not at first appear to be opponents, they appear to be supporters.
Last week we studied the parable of the prodigal son and learned
that the salvation of the older, "good," brother was in dispute. All
of these stories are a bit unsettling for us "good" Christians, and
drive us to better understand the gospel. Let's jump into our study
of the Bible to be sure that we are not in the camp of God's
- Two Answers
- Read Matthew 21:28-29. If Jesus is telling a parable of
the Kingdom of Heaven, what kind of person is this?
(Someone who rejects God, but later in life changes his
mind and follows God.)
- Read Matthew 21:30-31. Is this a person who is in church?
(This is someone who agrees to be a follower of Jesus,
but is either lying about it or later changes his mind.)
- Do you agree with the answer given by Jesus'
- If you agree with this answer, how can it be true
that tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the
Kingdom of Heaven? These are not people who are
doing God's will! Or, are they?
- Read Matthew 21:32. What kind of "doing the will of God"
can the prostitutes claim? (When we first started this
story, the work was to labor in the vineyard. Now, we
see the "work" - at least initially - is to believe and
- What is the problem with those who did not believe
John the Baptist? (They did not believe what John
said about "the way of righteousness.")
- What should that teach us? (That it is
essential to have a correct understanding of
God's path to righteousness. The people who you
would expect to understand and accept did not.
Instead, unlikely people understood and
- Is the path to righteousness difficult to
understand? Is it like complex math? (No. The
problem was one of belief, not a problem of
- The Original Invitation
- Read Matthew 22:1-2. What are we about to learn? (The
answer to the question that we just discussed was of the
greatest interest - what is God's path to righteousness?)
- Read Matthew 22:3-5. Are these invited people the King's
friends? (Probably. They are considered worthy of being
invited to the King's celebration of the wedding of his
son. The King certainly has some sort of relationship
- Is the King persistent in his invitation? (Yes. He
invites them twice. He should be insulted by their
initial refusal, but instead he repeats the
- Why do the King's friends turn him down? (They are
too busy with life! Business has their attention.)
- Read Matthew 22:6. What kind of attitude do these
"friends" have? (They do not act like friends. They
mistreat and kill the King's servants.)
- How do you treat your local pastor? How about
- How can you explain what the "friends" did? (They
were irritated and angry with the King's
- Read Matthew 22:7. The King may be patient and slow to
anger, but is he weak? (No. He executes punishment on his
"friends" who act like enemies.)
- Jesus' story takes place shortly before His
crucifixion. What does this story bring to mind?
(The religious leaders condemned Jesus and persuaded
the Roman authorities to kill Him. Not long
thereafter, their city, Jerusalem, was destroyed by
- The Second Invitation
- Read Matthew 22:8. Why did those who were invited not
"deserve" to come? (They were not interested in coming.
Or, they were less interested in coming then they were
interested in the affairs of life.)
- Read Matthew 22:9-10. List the ways in which this new
group of invited guests differs from the first group of
invited guests? (1. The King does not know them. 2. They
are not natural people to invite to a King's feast
because there is nothing special about them. 3. They are
a mixed group of good and bad people. 4. They are willing
- Of those four differences, which one is the most
important? (They are willing to come!)
- Read Matthew 22:11-12. Not too long ago we studied this
parable and I called the second group of invited guests
"Walmart shoppers." Why should this man be "speechless"
(without excuse) if he had gone straight from Walmart to
the wedding feast? (The only way this makes any sense is
if the King was giving out wedding garments to all of
these guests. Clearly, none of the Walmart shoppers put
on their royal wedding clothes to go shopping!)
- Initial Analysis
- We have a lot of information about the meaning of the
gospel, the path to eternal life. If you put our first
parable about the sons together with the second parable
about the wedding feast, what common answer do we get to
the question: "How do I enter into eternal life?" (In
both cases the key was coming. Coming to work in the
vineyard. Coming to the wedding feast.)
- As a practical matter, what does it mean for us to "come"
- Perhaps the easiest way to approach this issue is to
identify what constitutes not coming to God. What
kept people from coming to God in the two parables
we just discussed?
- Let's start with the parable of the two sons.
(Just talking about it was not sufficient. You
had to do something about it. Indeed, talking
about it might be a trap. If you say you are
coming, but do not, you may have mislead
yourself. At a minimum, whatever the sons said
was completely irrelevant to the outcome.)
- What about the parable of the wedding feast?
( Matthew 22:5 tells us that ignoring God,
putting our work or business before God, is
fatal to coming. Matthew 22:6 tells us that
hostility to God's agents is fatal to coming.
The Walmart shoppers were not hostile to the
King's helpers, and they were more interested
in the wedding feast than shopping at Walmart.)
- Our conclusion, then, about what it means to
"come" to God is: a) It means doing, not just
talking; and, b)It means having the right
attitude - a willingness to put God first.
- Staying Invited
- Re-read Matthew 22:11-13. This is a very curious guest.
He answered the King's invitation, left Walmart, and came
to the wedding feast. Yet he gets tossed out into "the
darkness." Can we lose our salvation? (If coming to the
feast means being saved, then this fellow became
- How do we avoid this fellow's fate? (Thinking our
Walmart clothes are good enough. We need to accept
the free gift of the King's robe of righteousness.)
- Consider this fellow just a minute. He put the
King's invitation above his own business, he was not
hostile to the King's agents, he came to the wedding
feast. He just thought that his righteousness was
good enough. Could this describe you?
- The Final Analysis
- Read Matthew 22:14. If you were working on this
manuscript with Matthew, what would you say about the
accuracy of this statement? (The first part is right -
all sorts of people were invited to the King's wedding
feast. But, the last part is clearly wrong - the King
chose everyone. He even invited Walmart shoppers! Since
we know that the Bible is God's infallible Word, how do
you explain this? (The only way this makes any sense is
to say that "God chooses those who choose to come to
- Given what we have studied, what is the path to
eternal life? (1. Repenting (the decision to put
God's invitation ahead of our selfish interests); 2.
Coming (acting on God's invitation, having the right
attitude; and, 3. Accepting God's robe of
righteousness (relying on Jesus' righteousness
instead of our own).)
- Read Matthew 22:15. How do you explain this? (Jesus was
destroying their special status. They were the select.
Jesus accepts Walmart shoppers who come to Him.)
- Friend, you may think that you are a friend of the King,
you may think that you are special, but these parables
show that talk means nothing. The wrong attitude is
fatal. Your attitude of putting the King's interests
first, accepting His invitation, and accepting His robe
of righteousness are key. Will you, right now, repent and
enter the Kingdom of God?
- Next week: More Clothing Imagery.
* Copr. 2011, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.